CMO 2.0 Influencer Conversation with Professor Chris Moorman from Duke University

Written by on March 1, 2013 – 3:47 pm -

I thoroughly enjoyed conducting this CMO 2.0 Influencer Conversation with the T. Austin Finch Senior Professor of Business Administration at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, Chris Moorman — discussing the latest results from the annual CMO Survey. Chris has been in academics for 25 years and a professor at Duke since 1999.

The CMO survey, which has been conducted since August 2008 and happens twice a year, seeks to get the perspective from 500 or so top marketers in organizations on where markets are going, what companies are doing, what some of spending patterns are, and how companies track marketing excellence. While the interview happened before the new February results were published, you can review the latest results of the CMO survey here.

Here are some of the top findings that Chris picked  for further commentary in our discussion.

Social Media Spend

Social Media spend, which was at about 7.6% and projected to grow to 18% in the last survey is now at 8.4% and projected to grow to more than 21% in this latest survey, is clearly becoming a considerable chunk of marketing budgets. The interesting part of this budget item is that there are very few in-house people who are actually allocated against it. In August, that number was 3.6 and in the latest findings, that number came down to 1.7 people. So for a fairly sizable portion of the budget, there are very few people engaging with that strategy. Chris thinks that it could be that companies have not quite caught up in terms of building their human capital around this particular strategy.

Interestingly enough, many successful companies are not approaching social media as another marketing silo — instead integrating it as part of the other marketing functions (e.g., lead gen, thought leadership, innovation, customer support, etc.). Even though those companies are probably in the minority, and with the survey showing that most organizations are not well integrating their social media with their marketing strategies, it could account for why the number is lower than what it really is.

Big Data

The next topic we covered was that of marketing analytics. Companies in August reported they were spending 5.7% of their budget on marketing analytics and that number was projected to go up to 9.1% ( 6% and going up to 10% in the February survey). It is interesting to see a predicted 60% increase in marketing analytics budgets even though overall marketing budgets have only grown by 8.3% in the last two years.

Now keep in mind that this does not include budgets that might be spent in IT to support marketing analytics. Chris believes that when IT departments take over marketing analytics, they spend a lot time creating the infrastructure for it but then don’t spend an equal amount of time and effort on making sure that the information is getting used by decision makers. In fact usage is a problem with marketing analytics in general, with managers not using the analytics that are available to them or that have been requested 62% of the time. Chris is not surprised by this number, as her research in the past 25 years has shown a general tendency for managers to ignore market research. Interestingly enough, when companies have an evaluation process for the quality of the marketing analytics data, the date has a much higher likelihood of being used.

Performance Metrics

Performance metrics is another area of the CMO Survey that Chris finds interesting. The survey measures a lot of performance metrics, including growth, marketing leadership, and others. They do a really good job at looking at growth rates across multiple geographic areas — finding for example, not surprisingly, that companies were growing strong in China.

A real interesting exercise that they went through, and which Chris describes in one of her blog posts, is how much risk companies are willing to take with their growth strategies. As the economy has tightened up, they have not found an increase in low risk growth strategies, such as market penetration strategies targeting existing customers with existing products and services , but instead found an increase in more risky growth strategies — like launching new products or entering new markets.

Another growth strategy, found especially in the tech sector is — tech, software, and biotech, — through acquisitions. What is interesting in that space, as Chris describes in another great blog post, is that many companies are doing acquisition to acquire patents which they ultimately do not show an interest in developing — so in effect using acquisitions as a defensive strategy.

On the other performance metrics front, many of the metrics are pretty dismal. Customer retention is down, customer acquisition is down, and brand value is down. That trend continued in the latest February CMO Survey. Note that the numbers are still positive with companies still acquiring customers, but the fact that the growth has slowed shows that there clearly is a lot of negativity and uncertainty going around.

Marketing Spending

Despite the tough economic times that we are going through, a lot of marketing indicators are on the rise — including overall marketing spending. Not surprisingly,  the CMO Survey also found that investments in traditional advertising is on the decline. Somewhat surprising is the investments that companies were making in marketing knowledge, developing knowledge about how to market, although that number dropped in the last survey.

The CMO Survey also has a great set of interviews with CMO’s that can be found here.

Other things that we discussed include:

  • How lack of integration of the various marketing channels leads to not being able to track the customer journey.
  • How marketing analytics really should be supported by both IT and Marketing.
  • Why Apple has consistently won the CMO Survey Award for Marketing Excellence.
  • How customer priorities are shifting towards price and what that means for marketers.
  • Top rated skill sets that marketers were looking for in their new hires.


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